Monday, March 3, 2008

Mothra Vesus the FAA!

The History of Aviation, according to Kevin Garrison--Part 2
Just when you though it was safe to go back in time, writer, pilot, and all around smart ass, Kevin Garrison 'splains how things with wings came into being back when Pipers had tailwheels and Cessnas were made in America.
If you dare, click here for the truth about Godzilla and the Chinese Communists Cessnas That Ate Their Own Legacy:
(right: New Cessna LSA SkySnatcher (TM) on test flight at secret Mongolian test field.)
To have Kevin Garrison speak truth (mostly...well, sorta) at your next dinner party, coronation or EAA roast, contact TSA (Transportation Speakers Association) at:

Friday, February 29, 2008

Living the Legend--Blakesburg

From The Antique Airplane Vault
Joe Pundzak produced this video about the Antique Airplane Association's Antique Airfield (IA27, aka, Blakesburg, Iowa) in 1993. The script was written by Paul Berge.:
© 1993, Joseph Pundzak, all rights reserved, used with permission.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pilot Shortage?

Real or Just Another Cycle?

By Tim Busch
President, Iowa Aviation Promotion Group –
President, Iowa Flight Training –
IowaFlightTraining DOT com
If you have been around the industry for a few years, you have probably been aware of “pilot shortages”. Many were imagined. In many cases, the truth was that there weren’t enough cheap pilots available. Recent studies have shown a need for at least 60,000 U.S. airline pilots over the next ten years. This time around, like previous cycles, we first noticed that instructors were being pulled up to the airlines. Then, the airlines lowered their entry standards. Minimums went from 1500 hours total time and a four year degree to just 600 hours and a multi-engine rating.
Cynics though, would say that it really isn’t a pilot shortage until the airlines raise entry-level pay. At the end of 2007, entry level pay for Masaba and United Express, typical entry pay for Iowa pilots looking to become airline pilots, was still $20,000 or less, increasing to nearly $40,000 after 36 months in service. This is difficult to accept for a student who has $50,000 in student loans to pay off. European and Asian airlines are now hiring at rates higher than U.S. airlines, drawing pilots out of the U.S. Recently though, the airlines have started increasing their entry level pay rates.
The increase in shared jet operators such as Flex Jets and Net Jets is also putting pressure on the airlines. New pilots are finding less hassle, bureaucracy, and better pay with the new operators. Also, routes tend to be more flexible and interesting. As the fractionals and wide-area charter operators expand, there will continue to be a growing need for biz jet pilots.
Iowa aviation operations are experiencing shortages as well. Corporations, charter & fixed base operators, and flight schools are having difficulty filling their needs. Our three aviation college programs have noted that retention of flight instructors makes it difficult to help feed enough new pilots to the industry.
All these points miss the basic need for flight training for business and recreational pilots. Studies funded by the Iowa Department of Transportation have shown a great economic benefit to the state due to aviation, and many of those pilots are not corporate or airline based, but contribute significantly to Iowa’s economy. We also need to grow the number of non-airline, non-corporate pilots to help our economy grow.
Although the number of pilots needed may be argued, the fact that the industry needs more pilots is not in dispute. On the supply side of the equation, we have very good data showing trends. The FAA publishes monthly pilot numbers, but keeps no formal trend data. I have been tracking these numbers for a while, and the trend is sobering. As of December 2007, Iowa has 845 flight instructors. Unfortunately, most of them are not teaching. We are not even overcoming attrition. If you look at the table below, you will see that Iowa lost 174 pilots in 2007. Worse, we have lost nearly 500 pilots since 2005. Perhaps more telling is the drop in student pilots, a bad sign for the future if we don’t change course.
Iowa is not alone. The trend holds true across the country. This clearly is an emergency situation for the aviation industry.
Iowa Pilots
There is good news in the data. One area that is definitely growing is the Sport Pilot. We believe that there is a lot of interest by people wishing to start with the Sport Pilot license and work up. It will take some time to get more Light Sport Aircraft into flight schools. Also, there are many great next generation aircraft coming online such as Cirrus, Diamond, and Columbia (now Cessna), and potential pilots want to fly these new airplanes.
There are many ways we help change the trend, grow more pilots, and help grow Iowa’s economy. To start, set a goal. How many pilots would you like to have in your community? Be aggressive. You might double the number of pilots in your county. Publicize your goal in your aviation community so everyone will buy in and work toward that goal. My goal for Iowa is to double the pilot population in five years. That would be nearly 12,000 pilots by the end of 2012. We can do it if we work together.
How do you reach your goal? The first step is education. Most people are not aware that it is even possible for them to become a pilot, or what steps they must follow in order to earn a license. Gleim makes an excellent brochure that I hand out to anyone willing to read it. Gleim wants to see these out in the field and will send you a box of 100 free if you call and ask. You can hold “Learn to Fly” events at your local community center and spread the word with flyers posted around town. I prefer to hold these events away from the airport, because the airport is unfamiliar territory and often not very friendly for newcomers. Once they understand what it’s all about, then I bring them in and they see a friendly face they have seen before.
I have found that ground school classes are a great way to get potential new students immersed in the aviation culture. Often, flight instructors don’t like to teach ground school classes. If you have trouble getting an instructor to teach ground school, please let me know. I teach weekend classes all over the state.
For most people, aviation is a completely new culture. It is unfamiliar and a bit scary because they don’t understand what it’s all about. The airport is a fun place to be, if you make it fun. Give them a reason to come and see what it’s all about and they will be more likely to think of aviation in their personal and professional lives. You can host flight breakfasts, type club fly-ins, aviation day camps for kids, swap meets, EAA Young Eagle flights, chili dinners, etc. to help draw people to your field. Your best promoters will your students and new pilots. They talk about what they’re doing and how much fun their having.
You might consider adding Sport Pilot training to your airport. With Sport Pilot, you provide a low-cost entry point to aviation, and these pilots will upgrade over time. Also, you will have twice as many new pilots for the same effort due to the 20 hour minimum requirement versus the 40 hour Private Pilot requirement.
The Iowa Aviation Promotion Group is a non-profit organization whose mission is to grow aviation by increasing the number of pilots, aviation users, and aviation supporters within the state. IAPG offers a number of programs intended to: increase awareness of the benefits of aviation, educate the public, increase the activity level of current aviation enthusiasts, increase the number of pilots and aircraft within the state, and provide opportunities for young and old to experience aviation in Iowa. We have set measurable goals to monitor the benefit of each of these programs.
One of our new programs at IAPG is the Blue Skies pilot growth program. We hope to help grow the number of pilots in Iowa with new advertising, local speakers, and more organized and visible training programs across the state. We will help connect airports, FBOs, flight schools, and flight instructors with pilots and new students. I hope you will consider joining IAPG to help us help you succeed. You can join online at

If you have questions, feel free to contact me, Tim Busch, at Info AT IowaFlightTraining DOT com

(Left: The challenge. These are the pilot data from July 2005 through March 2008. As you can see, Iowa isn't building enough pilots. The only category showing any strength is Sport Pilot. We can do better.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ground School for Private & Sport Pilot

Pass Your FAA Written Exam
Flight instructor, Paul Berge (CFII), is offering a Private Pilot and Sport Pilot Ground School March 10 through April 9 at Southwestern Community College in Osceola, Iowa. This course introduces students to the academic requirements for becoming a Private (or Sport) Pilot. Upon successful completion, the student will receive the logbook endorsement required to take the FAA written Knowledge Test.
Class will meet Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30. In the final week, students will take a practice FAA Written Knowledge Exam.
For further information and to pre-register: 515-961-0654 or

Sunday, February 3, 2008

History of Aviation, Part I

Kevin Garrison Defends Creationist View of Flight
In a world gone politically correct, renowned aviation writer and speaker, Kevin Garrison, explains flight from its inception, quite early one morning in a small tavern in Wales, to the very cusp of WWII movie stardom.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll demand your money back until you realize it's all free. Then, you'll just feel silly, which may have been his intent. Click here for Garrison's take on The History of Aviation, Part Une:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

PETA Rescue Widens

Ercoupe Abuse Reaches Toward Oshkosh

One can only imagine the horror...the horror that veteran PETA volunteer, Brent Taylor, experience when he discovered yet another Ercoupe mounted in dying duck pose atop this strip mall in the very heart of EAA country, Oshkosh, Wi. *
"Oh, the humanity," Taylor cried over his cellphone to our news desk shortly after taking the photo. "I tried to liberate the poor thing, to set it free...but it was Tuesday, and the line next door for half-price tacos was forming fast, so I had to leave it."
It's that cusp of dedication to the Save The Coupes cause that drives us all to find, photograph and defend--if time allows--the Ercoupe heritage.
When contacted for comment, the owner of the Shell station--or someone we assumed was the owner--said, "I don't know how it got there. You know how them Coupes are; they just fly into sparrows on sliding glass doors."
* The mounted Coupe is actually in Wautoma, Wi, as a sharp-eyed reader noted, which is 40 miles west of EAA's heart, Oshkosh.
© PETA: Pilots for the Ethical Treatment of Aircoupes (yeah, that should be PFTETOA, but that's hard to pronounce...but, then, again, so is Ercoupe.
Disclaimer: PETA (Pilots for the Ethical Treatment of Aircoupes) is not affiliated with other PETA organizations, including but not limited to: People for the Ethical Treatment of Airlines, People for the Ethical Treatment of Attorneys, People for the Ethical Treatment of Accountants, People for the Ethical Treatment of Admen

Friday, January 25, 2008

PETA Launches Aircraft Rescue

PETA (Pilots for the Ethical Treatment of Aircoupes) activists (not seen in photo, below) swarmed around this Montana roadhouse chanting, "Free the Coupe!" and "Coupes are human, too!" until the club owner threatened to chase them off with his Navion. "This isn't over yet," PETA person-of-spokes, Delmar Nopheet, said to reporters as he chained himself to a Univair catalog. "Ever since that article came out magazine (he refused to utter its name), Coupes have been the target of malicious and unwarranted smears. We even found a Coupe," he struggled to choke back tears, "being used as a wind Tee! A wind Tee! Don't people realize that Coupe pilots don't need to know which way the wind blows? Have they no shame? Has this country run completely out of Tomahawks?"
The editorial staff at Hangar Flying Theater was shocked and/or awed to learn of these abuses and challenges our readers to help PETA: Save The Coupes (STC). The time to act is now, before more of these adorable little two-seaters can be snatched from hangars and impaled on posts or used for who knows what nefarious purposes. So, don't call Congress. Don't call AOPA. Instead, slap a Save The Coupes banner over your Dennis Kuspinach For President 08 bumber sticker and proclaim yourself a PETA supporter. And whenever you encounter a Coupe being misused, mocked or just poorly mounted over someone's diner, bowling alley or brothel, take a photo and send it to us. We'll make sure it gets the treatment it deserves. Because if we don't Save The Coupes today, they could come for your Musketeer tomorrow.
PETA is not associated with the other PETA, its affiliates or the unleavened bread of the same sounding name.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

To Ercoupe is Human....

To Forget Divine

In the February Aviation Consumer, I, Paul Berge, wrote an article about Legacy LSAs, comparing five models: The Aeronca 7AC Champ, Piper J-3 Cub, Luscombe 8A, Taylorcraft BC12D and the Ercoupe 415C. Apparently some Ercoupe owners took umbrage with my commentary. Here is an excerpt from the article:.

Okay, stop giggling. “Coupes” are cute in a playground way, with their interconnected ailerons and adorable twin rudder. Lacking rudder pedals you drive this low-wing monoplane around the sky. Its ballyhooed “unspinnable” nature is achieved in part by limiting elevator travel.
Flyers used to actively incorporating rudder and opposite aileron in crosswind landings will find themselves mashing the rudderless floorboards as the Ercoupe impacts the runway in a crab. Amazingly, it’ll straighten itself out…the way a dead cow straightens out when dropped off a moving truck.1 Can’t say we’re crazy about this airplane. But, enough Coupers are (crazy) to make this a viable alternative to the previous four entrants.


Now the Fallout, a letter--one of several--from Ercoupe owners. It's reprinted here, unedited, in its entirety. You decide.

Dear Aviation Consumer News Editor,
I have been an avid reader of Aviation Consumer News since the early 1980's and rely upon your publication and the information it provides to the Aviation community. I've been very happy with the value provided.

However your recent article on the Legacy LSA's was very disappointing in several respects. The information presented regarding the Ercoupe was incomplete & inaccurate, a number of the Ercoupes significant advantages were downplayed or ignored, and several comments towards the Ercoupe were less than flattering if not outright derogatory, completely unnecessary, and misleading to Aviation Consumer readers.

* The article states that the Ercoupe 415C is LSA eligible, but failed to mention or include the 415CD which is also LSA eligible.

* The article states that Ercoupes have no rudder pedals, which is not true. Some of the Ercoupe fleet already have rudder pedals, AND they're available as an option for those who must have them (a completely un-necessary option!).

* "Spin proof handling? Need we even offer an answer?" Yes, actually the Ercoupe is certified as spin proof!

* "One broke up in flight due to center section corrosion." Not true. In the case I am aware of some corrosion was found in the center section during the post crash investigation however; the official determination was that the Ercoupe appeared to have been stressed beyond design limits (loss of the tail section and flight control) prior to the failure of the wing center section failure (in a high negative loading mode, due to the prior loss of the tail), and the corrosion was not the cause of the failure. In this case the pilot was likely attempting a loop or other aerobatic type maneuver with two aboard however; regardless of the exact details what is clear is that the Ercoupe was being operated well beyond its design limitations. All Ercoupes should have had the wing spar and center sections inspected per prior AD's (sic). In any case a thorough pre-buy inspection should be done for corrosion on ANY & ALL legacy LSA types! Corrosion is NOT unique to the Ercoupe.

* "(....doing 95 MPH)" Most of the Ercoupes I know have been converted to 85 HP and even the 75 HP Coupes are generally capable of cruising at over 100 MPH - and typical cruise of 100 to 108 MPH.

* "These legacy LSA's are not terribly comfortable, and if you can't fly coordinated and learn to use your feet they'll be neither pleasant nor kind, especially on the runway." The Ercoupe flies coordinated automatically, and are relatively comfortable, particularly without the rudder pedals installed. One can move your legs around or cross them as desired for comfort on longer cross country trips (such as from CA to OSH).

Unnecessarily derogatory & misleading statements;
* "The flight experience is best described as quirky, especially in cross winds, it has no rudder pedals." The in-flight experience is fairly normal compared to a modern aircraft such as a Cherokee or Bonanza, and only 'quirky' when compared to older rudder dominant tail wheel aircraft with lots of adverse yaw. The landings could subjectively be described as quirky however; such a term ignores that the Ercoupe is very capable of handling stiff cross winds that would likely ground other light aircraft, and the beefy trailing link landing gear design makes it MUCH more forgiving on landing than the other types. The Ercoupe probably has the most predictable and comfortable landings and takeoffs of any light plane manufactured in significant numbers. In this it is much more like contemporary light aircraft than tail dragger LSAs.

* "The Ercoupe, top, is an acquired taste savored by owners who can do without rudder pedals. Crosswind landings are faith-based flying." Rudders are an option for those so inclined however; they are completely un-necessary in the Ercoupe. Crosswind landings are the Ercoupes forte, and for the proficient Ercoupe pilot are routine in conditions that ground all other light planes. They are "faith-based" in the sense that the pilot can have absolute faith the plane, if flown properly, will predictably do what is expected so long as the pilot knows the difference between luck and skill. I have landed my Ercoupe in 30 knot direct 90 degree cross winds and have witnesses (Paul Rosales of the SoCal RV group among them) and video to prove it, and others claim to have landed their Coupes in 40 knot cross winds. Try that in a tail wheel LSA. Here's a video link; @ 5:40 into the video you can watch my Ercoupe land however; be sure to watch the other landing and listen to the Bellanca pilot during take off at the end. Perhaps you believe that an automatic transmission is an acquired taste savored by those who can do without shifting gears? Please also refer to the detailed note on this topic at the end of this letter.

* "Amazingly it will straighten itself out....the way a dead cow straightens out when dropped off a moving truck." PLEASE, would the author also use this term to describe a 707 or other transport or military jets using largely the same crab style landing technique?!?!? We can confidently assert that many superior aircraft have adopted the same system. Witness crosswind landings in virtually all large airliners and the Space Shuttle which all touchdown nose high, in a crab, just like an Ercoupe. I doubt that this kind of comment is what Aviation Consumer News readers expect from this publication.

* “We can't say we're crazy about this plane...." You don't say?! We'd never have guessed, and I would ask who is "we" in this case?

* "If you have lazy feet, the 75 HP Ercoupe 415C may be for you..." Or the 85 HP Ercoupe 415-C or 415-CD too. And this is true even if you don’t have lazy feet, but instead are cursed with more intelligence than ego.

* "Last pick is the Ercoupe. They aren't cheap and, in our view, lack the charm of the tail draggers which except for the cub, are all bargain for beginner or lingering pilots." First, I'd say that if this statement is true, then the market may be contradicting the author. However I'd also note that the figures given show the Ercoupe to be priced within about 10% of the other types, which seems quite reasonable given it's very unique features and key advantages. I'd also add that if we're talking beginners or infrequent flyers, the easy to land and easy ground handling Ercoupe may well be the better pick. For those who prefer tail wheel aircraft like the author, I understand that a 'conventional' type would be preferred. With higher cruise speeds and far fewer worries about cross winds, the Ercoupe is also a better pick for those who wish to actually go somewhere in their aircraft. BTW - There are those who would say that no one in their right mind would choose one of the tail wheel LSAs over an Ercoupe in good condition.)

Ercoupe advantages compared to other legacy LSA's;
* Tri-cycle gear for stable landing & ground handling.
* Superior cross wind landing capabilities (I'd be very happy to prove this claim)
* Good brakes (many if not most Ercoupes are now converted to Cleveland brakes)
* Stall resistant and spin proof (when properly rigged and flown within weight & balance limits)
* Responsive full span ailerons.
* Electrical system.
* Excellent visibility. This is a great safety feature for avoiding mid-air collisions at busy airports!
* Windows down "open cockpit" flying experience!
* Higher speed cruise than other LSAs with the same engine
* Mostly metal or all metal construction (only wings are fabric, and many have been metalized), resulting in generally lower costs (recovering a fabric plane is very costly).
* Very simple systems: no fuel tank switching and no flaps.

I would point out that there have been several recent articles in AOPA Pilot & EAA Sport Pilot about the Ercoupe which would be helpful as references, although even more detailed and accurate information about the Ercoupe is available.

Mr. Berge clearly favors the more traditional tail wheel Legacy LSA's, and the Champ in particular, which I noticed he owns. All this is fine and I will be the first to admit that the Champ is a worthy airplane. However in this article the content appears to have significantly reflected a personal bias of the author.

I expect evenhanded and accurate reporting from the Aviation Consumer and hope you will address the article's shortcomings, and / or print the relevant information for your readers.

Sincerely,Dan Hall
Ercoupe Owner Club Region 7 acting Director
1947 Ercoupe 415CD
N3968H @ CNO
(BS Aeronautics, PPSEL, CPSEL, Instrument rated, tail wheel, and 1,300+ hours in Ercoupes)

With regard to cross wind landing it would be prudent to be aware of and perhaps even pass along the following information to AC's normally well informed readership;

The Ercoupe’s crosswind landings are engineering-based! Fred Weick, owner of the patent on the tricycle landing gear and later Chief of Design at Piper, carefully developed and extensively researched landing with the tricycle gear.

The landing gear is based upon the principal that the center of mass is in front of the (fixed and non-swiveling) main gear. Since the nose gear (like all tricycle gear planes) is free to turn, the side loads on the main gear introduce a turning force when the plane is landed in the crab. The nose wheel turns and offers no side-force so the plane simply turns to line up with the direction of motion – as designed by a superior engineer.

The side forces are not enormous. An egg in a saucer in the pilot’s lap will stay in the saucer.
This excellently designed landing system is a key to the Ercoupe’s ability to handle strong, direct crosswinds. Many Ercoupe owners enjoy taunting local flight schools by flying touch and goes when the crosswinds are strong on beautiful Saturdays. It’s fun, waving with a hand raised through the convertible canopy at the grounded students and CFIs as we do landings even with crosswind components greater than 25 knots.


1 We have yet to hear from PETA

Aviation Consumer magazine is not affiliated with Hangar Flying Theater and can be found at:

Friday, January 4, 2008

High Flying Fun

AKA: Stupid Hatz Tricks

by Jeff Cain and Vince Hahn

Question: How high can you legally fly a homebuilt open cockpit biplane without a transponder or oxygen?
Flying 'Eve,' our homebuilt Hatz biplane up and over the Continental Divide sounded like fun. Why not? A cool June morning (45 degrees on the ground) would give us thicker air and the wind was forecast to be over the mountains from the West at only 20mph.
The Hatz is a popular plans-built biplane with a steel tube fuselage, wooden spars, ribs and covered in fabric. Our Hatz, (NX8032Y and serial number 6) was built in 1981 by Ray and Dorothy Hill of Baxter Iowa and was only the second to be built from the then new plans. Eve’s 160-hp Lycoming 0-320 engine and a wooden Sensenich propeller makes her the perfect airplane to hop rides for kids (400 so far): slow cruise and good climb. But how would she do in the mountains? Before heading over the Rocky Mountains, we consulted with EAA Flight Advisor Bill Mitchell, our instructor and flying mentor, to review the route and mountain flying tips.
At 8:15 that morning the wheels cleared the runway outside of Denver and we headed west, climbing well over Boulder’s scenic foothills into clear skies and smooth air. But not for long.
By 9000 feet and only half way to the summit, despite our cruise climb rate of 500 fpm, the air quickly became “a bit” bumpy, as the combination of early thermals, westerly winds and rising mountains tossed us up—1500 fpm--and down at 500 fpm. Using ridge lift and Bill’s carefully chosen approach to the divide over a flat plateau; we were finally able to break into smoother air above 11,000 feet.
A good thing, because as we crossed the Continental Divide westward at 12,000 feet, the snow covered ridge loomed up at us at 11,000 feet. The tour over the Winter Park ski area was cut short, clouds were already beginning to extend along the divide. The top of nearby Mt. Evans to our south (14,264 feet) was covered with cloud and neither of us wanted to spend the night on the other side of the Rockies trapped by weather. Crossing back eastward, the upslope wind along Mt. Evans’ flanks helped us top out at 13,500 feet, where it was cold enough for our breath to freeze on the open cockpit windscreens.
Heading back down the hill riding smooth currents brought smiles, laughs, and warmth. Fingers and toes thawed out by the time we reached the grass runway at Colorado Antique Field (over the pass the temp was only 15 degrees F---plus wind chill) where we were able to warm up and share stories and lies with our Antique Aircraft Association friends.
The Answer:

Aircraft must have a transponder for flights above 10,000 feet MSL, excluding the airspace at or below 2500 feet AGL (FAR 91.215). Oxygen is required for crewmembers on flights at cabin pressure above 14,000 feet or for flights longer than 30 minutes between 12,500 and 14,000 feet (FAR 91.211). With an open cockpit, cabin pressures and temperatures are of course the same as outside temperature and pressures.
Yes, we were legal.
It was a complete gas.
And an altitude record for Hatz biplanes.
Thanks, Ray and Dorothy (pictured above right with the author and the Hatz at Blakesburg Iowa's Antique Airfield, 2005).